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The acronym VARK stands for Visual, Aural, Read/write, and Kinesthetic sensory modalities that are used for learning information. Fleming and Mills (1992) suggested four modalities that seemed to reflect the experiences of the students and teachers. Remember life (and work) are multimodal so there are no hard and fast boundaries.
Take five minutes to complete the learning styles assessment and record your results.
Visual (V): This preference includes the depiction of information in maps, spider diagrams, charts, graphs, flow charts, labelled diagrams, and all the symbolic arrows, circles, hierarchies and other devices, that people use to represent what could have been presented in words.
This perceptual mode describes a preference for information that is “heard or spoken. ” Learners who have this as their main preference report that they learn best from lectures, group discussion, radio, email, using mobile phones, speaking, web-chat and talking things through. Email is included here because; although it is text and could be included in the Read/write category (below), it is often written in chat-style with abbreviations, colloquial terms, slang and non-formal language.
This preference is for information displayed as words. Not surprisingly, many teachers and students have a strong preference for this mode. Being able to write well and read widely are attributes sought by employers of graduates. This preference emphasizes text-based input and output – reading and writing in all its forms but especially manuals, reports, essays and assignments.
By definition, this modality refers to the “perceptual preference related to the use of experience and practice (simulated or real). ” Although such an experience may invoke other modalities, the key is that people who prefer this mode are connected to reality, “either through concrete personal experiences, examples, practice or simulation” [See Fleming & Mills, 1992, pp. 140 -141]. It includes demonstrations, simulations, videos and movies of “real” things, as well as case studies, practice and applications.
Learning Styles and the Writing Process Understanding your learning style can be very effective in the writing process; especially as it pertains to 1. ) Drafting and 2. ) Revising.
Use a Computer Using a computer will help you keep your draft visually organized and neat. You may want to print several different versions of your paper so that you can see how your paper would look several different ways. Keep an Example of the Required Method of Citation Handy Find out whether you are required to use APA, MLA or some other form of citation, and then keep an example handy; It'll save you headaches later.
Highlight the Topic Sentence of Each Paragraph Use bold type or italics for the topic sentence of each paragraph. This will help you focus clearly on the topic sentence, and will also help you rearrange your paper later. Focus on One Section or Paragraph at a Time as You Draft Remember that it is easy to move sections of a paper around, so focus your attention on one section at a time. It is often a good idea to work out of order.
When in Doubt, Talk it Out If you have difficulty writing a particular part, just "say what you mean" out loud. Usually, you will "say it" more clearly and simply than you "write it. " Use your tape recorder to help you remember what you say, if that helps. This is also a good technique for revision. Read Quotes in a "Different Voice" Remember that a quote uses someone else's voice, so read them in another voice to be sure that they have been introduced properly. If you shift into another voice that has not been introduced, it will sound awkward.
Make Your Paper "Sound Clear" First; Make it "Sound Academic" Later Be sure your sentences make sense. If you feel that you want to make your sentence structure more complicated or that you want to beef up the vocabulary, you can do that later as a part of revision. Clarity is the first job of a good essay. Read Your Topic Sentences Aloud If you read your topic sentences one after the other, you should wind up with a kind of summary of your essay. If the topic sentences don't seem to fit together, you may need to reorganize, add something, or modify your transitions.
Use a Computer keyboards are wonderful for kinesthetic learners. Typing will help reinforce your ideas, so that you more fully understand your own points. Further, your fingers can often learn skills, such as spelling, better than your eyes. Typing on a computer, as always, will also make revision easier. Take Frequent Breaks; Plan Some Physical Activity You should probably take a break in which you participate in some physical activity between major sections of your paper. Don't interrupt the drafting process for too long, but give yourself a break between sections.
Again, Use Body Positions Using the same body positions you used for collecting and organizing your main ideas may also help you write about those ideas.
Gather into groups with students who have a similar learning style. Create a list showing how your learning style can most effectively draft and revise.
Revising for the Visual Learner Re-Read Your Assignment If you have been given guidelines for your paper, re- read them after you complete a draft. Change the Way Your Paper Looks Suggestions: (1) Change the lighting, (2) Change the font on your computer, (3) Use a computer or photocopier to change the size of the print, (4) If possible, use a color printer or try printing your paper on colored paper
Revising for the Visual Learner Give Your Eyes a Break Between Drafting and Revision Twenty-four hours or more would be ideal, but even a few minutes can help. Outline Your Completed Draft This will help give you the "big picture" of your paper.
Revising for the Visual Learner Give Your Eyes a Break Between Drafting and Revision Look for Long Paragraphs or Short Paragraphs Very short paragraphs may be underdeveloped. Very long paragraphs may contain more than one idea and may need to be revised as two independent paragraphs. Print a Draft Without Paragraph Breaks Try printing a draft of your paper as one long paragraph and then read through your paper and make a mark (use a colored pen) every time your paper seems to shift focus. Then compare your marks with your original paragraph breaks.
Revising for the Auditory Learner Have Someone Read Your Paper Out Loud Have someone read your paper out loud while you follow along on another copy. Read sections of the paper to yourself to revise paragraphs or sentences. You may also consider using a computer read-back program to read your paper. Ask Yourself, "How Would · Say This? " Say what you mean as simply as you can. You may want to use a tutor or a tape recorder to help you remember what you say. Remember to be clear first.
Revising for the Auditory Learner Listen for Transitions Usually, the beginning of a paragraph should connect that paragraph to the one that comes before it. If your paragraphs sound unconnected, you need to write stronger transitions. Outline Your Draft; Read Your Outline Aloud Reading an outline of a completed draft aloud should help you spot gaps in logic and flaws in organization. Reading an outline is also a good way to think about transitions, since it is easier to see the progression of ideas in an outline than in a full draft.
Revising for the Kinesthetic Learner Change the Way Your Body Feels to Change the Way You See a Paper Sleep is a good way to get a new perspective, but them are other options as well. Exercise, eating, changing clothes, and changing temperature all ways to change your perspective. Outline a Completed Draft Even if you don't look at your outline again, making an outline will give you a better feel for the organization of your paper.
Revising for the Kinesthetic Learner Take Breaks Again, take breaks after revising major sections. Try to only take breaks during a logical break in the revision process. Look at Different Versions of Your Paper Side-By-Side If you are having trouble deciding how to organize your paper, or you can't decide which version of a particular paragraph to use, print both versions and look at them side by side. Moving the different versions around as you compare them might help you make those decisions.